Sometimes I guess I just need to write, knowing that there’s a message in there someplace, but being too tired, too close to the problems, too confused, too swept up in the chaos to find the optimal path to salvation. But one thing I got out of some training at both Annapolis and Pepperdine was a technique for dealing with such situations – MOVE. Not panic, not random motion, but get your ass in gear. Make your best choice, be ready to change direction if you get new or better information, but avoid paralyses by analyses.
So let me ramble a bit and see if my muse can guide us toward an actual point…
One of the reasons that these thoughts are dwelling tonight is because do-or-die deadlines have been met and, for the moment at least (I’m well aware that this can change in a heartbeat) I’m not seeing any additional do-or-die deadlines on the immediate horizon. Meeting those deadlines has involved working a lot of hours right through what should have been a four-day holiday weekend, plus some 20+ hour days that had me up until 3AM or so this week – but the deadlines have been met. So I can breathe. And come up for air just a little bit.
It’s not like I have nothing to do. There are myriad other things that got pushed onto back burners, both at work, at home, at the hangar, and in my personal life. And it’s not like hitting those do-or-die deadline tasks was antagonistic or confrontational. Quite to the contrary. The people I’m working with now are supportive and wonderful. Making the move last October was the luckiest and best career move I’ve ever made. But in the end, by nature of the beast, my shoulders were where the burden fell (and will fall again in the future) and mine is the responsibility to get ‘er done.
The pressure and time requirements can be significant, the outcome uncertain, the anxiety levels high. But the feeling of accomplishment when it gets done? The kudos from people who I admire and enjoy working with? Those are significant as well.
Now, an ever so brief pause. Or at least a chance to ease it back out of overdrive and off of the afterburners for a couple of days.
There’s still this truly annoying, nagging, urgent voice in the back of my head that’s telling me that I have to optimize, and maximize, and be extremely efficient. How do I take advantage of this pause to catch up on the highest priority items off of those back burners? How do I gain an advantage and not waste the opportunity? When what I would truly like is the opportunity to waste away, to not think for a bit, to catch up on some recreational reading, to watch “Hamilton” again (I can’t believe I’ve only watched it once on Disney+!), to do something mindless for a couple of hours like crushing those cans in the garage for recycling, or take a walk with my camera (wearing a mask, socially distanced of course) to take pictures of things outside of my yard.
I think it’s a matter of balance. (I might have said something along these lines a few hundred times before, but I guess I need to remind myself.) Read a few chapters in that book that I’ve been neglecting for weeks, but also get caught up on some stuff for the hangar that’s past due. Watch “Hamilton” again, but also get those backups done and take a look at that hard disk that’s getting glitchy. Crush those cans, but also spend a few hours sorting and filing that increasingly threatening pile of loose documents in back of my desk that’s making it time-consuming and frustrating to find anything quickly.
Remember that there’s good in the world. The NFL season started tonight, and my beloved Chiefs pretty convincingly won the season opener. The three-minute long trailer for the new “Dune” came out and it’s freakin’ SPECTACULAR. I’ve got a big stack of new CD’s to burn and listen to, new music to sort through looking for new additions to my “best of” playlists.
Don’t despair. I know it’s so easy today – friends online let me know today of an acquaintance who lost her battle with depression. The fight is hard and there are days when we all wonder how much more we can take. I can’t be proud of the fact that I’ve yet to come that close to the end of my rope – I prefer to be grateful, knowing that darkest hour could be out there lurking somewhere.
Don’t forget. It’s just over a year ago that my dear friend Sandy passed away suddenly and totally unexpectedly. I’ve been thinking of her a lot this last week especially. I can talk to her in my head whenever I want, but I can’t get any answers. But for every “what if” question there are happy memories to offset the sorrow.
In summary, I guess the message for myself from this moment of reflection (remembering Tonio K.’s lyric from “American Love Affair, “No one’s let her take the time to think at all, much less think twice”) is to cut myself some slack, take some down time, but don’t take too much, and don’t forget to tell people that you love them. They may really, really need to hear it, and some day you may not get another chance.
But keep moving.